November 18th, 2013
08:18 AM ET
Tacloban City, The Philippines (CNN) - The day after the typhoon, the Rev. Edwin Bacaltos stepped out of the compound of the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in central Tacloban and began his work.
The scene was one of unspeakable horror. Dead bodies were strewn all over the place. The debris of shattered buildings and their contents filled the street.
Bacaltos' self-appointed task that day was to bless the bodies that lay scattered around his parish.
"It was difficult for me," he said. "It was a really emotional experience."
The next day, he said, "When I celebrated the Eucharist, I broke down because of all the suffering I had seen."
Hundreds of survivors were taking refuge in the church compound, much of which withstood Super Typhoon Haiyan's ferocious winds and destructive storm surge.
Many of them asked the pastor how God could let such a calamity befall this predominantly Catholic city.
His response, he said, was to tell them that "God is not the cause of the suffering. God cannot prevent this. This is the work of nature."
But why it had to happen to Tacloban and its more than 200,000 residents, Father Bacaltos acknowledged, is "difficult to explain."
As the people who remain in this broken city attempt to come to terms with the catastrophe that engulfed them a week ago, religion is offering a degree of solace for some of those who have suffered incalculable losses.
It's also providing basic elements of community and support to residents of an area where local government ceased to fully function for several days and is still only slowly sputtering back into action.
November 13th, 2013
09:31 AM ET
(CNN) - A giant statue of Jesus apparently survived Typhoon Haiyan unscathed, even as the massive storm flattened many parts of Tanauan, a coastal town in the central Philippines.
It's not the first time religious statues have survived natural disasters in the heavily Catholic Philippines, according to local reports. Two statues of the Virgin Mary withstood a devastating earthquake last month.
Meanwhile, Haiyan has wiped entire towns off the map, and thousands are searching for family members, food and water.
So, what do you think, readers: Is the unscathed Jesus statue a miraculous sign of hope amid the ruins or just a random coincidence?
November 11th, 2013
11:16 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editorFollow @BurkeCNN
(CNN) - The disasters are always different and often devastating. But the questions they raise are hauntingly familiar.
In the days since Super Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines on Thursday, survivors are frantically searching for lost family members and international aid groups are springing into action.
Officials say the death toll may rise to 10,000 in the heavily Catholic country. Meanwhile, many people are asking: How should we make sense of such senseless death and destruction? Was God in the whirlwind itself, as the Bible hints, or present only in the aftermath, as people mobilize to provide food, water and shelter?
These questions may not be new, but we keep asking them, perhaps because the answers remain so elusive.
October 8th, 2012
04:45 AM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - The Philippines has reached a preliminary agreement with Muslim rebels after 15 years of talks, the president announced Sunday, marking a major milestone after decades of militant insurgency in the nation's troubled south.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has fought for decades for an independent Islamic state in southern Philippines. It has been blamed for rampant attacks in the region.FULL STORY
September 27th, 2012
05:14 AM ET
By Madison Park, CNN
(CNN) - A priest known for his collection of religious art is under investigation for possible involvement in the illegal ivory trade, according to a Philippine law enforcement agency.
Monsignor Critobal Garcia was quoted in the October issue of National Geographic directing a reporter to ivory carvers and traders, and also dispensing advice on how to smuggle the banned item into the United States.FULL STORY
May 20th, 2011
04:22 PM ET
Manny Pacquaio's latest fight could be much tougher than pounding on “Sugar” Shane Mosley for 12 rounds.
Fresh off his trouncing of the American welterweight contender, Pacquiao, 32 – who also serves as a Sarangani representative in the Filipino Congress – has entered the ring again to denounce a reproductive health bill that he and his fellow lawmakers are considering.
The bill has several controversial provisions, such as the requirement that women experiencing problems after abortions, which would still be banned, must be treated humanely and compassionately.
Pacquiao and President Benigno Aquino III, a backer of the bill, agree abortion should be outlawed, The Manila Times reported. Where they part ways is on the issue of contraception, according to Filipino media.
Aquino believes couples should be educated on birth control and should be free to choose the method they deem most appropriate, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Pacquiao, on the other glove, opposes contraception and paraphrased Genesis to defend his stance.
“God said, ‘Go forth and multiply.' He did not say, ‘Go and have just one or two children,’” the People’s Champ said, according the paper.
April 22nd, 2011
09:36 AM ET
iReporter MjCantilero shot video of an annual pilgrimage of Catholics walking miles to Antipolo City, Philippines, last night. 'Thousands of devotees thread the hills of this city as a sacrifice for the Holy Week. Some walk from nearby cities and provinces, and there are barely vehicles passing the highway leading to the city. It's an amazing view. They stay overnight and sleep on the pavements or outside the church doors with only newspapers,' she said.
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